MANILA – Malacañang on Monday congratulated British human rights lawyer Karim Khan for being elected as next chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Khan will replace chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda whose nine-year-term will expire in June.

“Binabati rin po natin ang ating kaibigan, kasama po sa International Criminal Bar, wala pong iba kung hindi si Karim Khan ng Britanya dahil siya po ang nahalal na bagong prosecutor ng International Criminal Court (We congratulate my friend and companion in the International Criminal Bar, none other than Karim Khan of Britain because he was elected as new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque said Khan, who is best known for heading the United Nations’ special investigative team looking into Islamic State crimes in Iraq, was previously invited to visit the Philippines to serve as speaker in a lecture.

“Si Khan po ay isa sa kinikilalang isa sa pinakamagaling na defense counsels na humaharap po sa mga international tribunals at kung hindi po ako nagkakamali, naimbitahan ko na po si prosecutor Khan dito sa Pilipinas para mag-lecture dun sa mga training na ginawa natin para sa investigation-prosecution ng mga extra-legal killings (Khan is known as one of the best defense counsels facing international tribunals and if I’m not mistaken, I already invited prosecutor Khan here in the Philippines to lecture on trainings we made for investigation-prosecution of extra-legal killings),” he added.

Roque also expressed hope that Khan would observe the principle of complementarity in relation to alleged human rights violations in the Philippines.

The principle of complementarity provides that a case is inadmissible before the ICC if it is currently under investigation by a state with jurisdiction over it.

“Inaasahan po natin, dahil si Mr. Khan ay isang batikang defense counsel at isang Briton, e hindi po niya kakalimutan yung desisyon ng ICC na hindi pupuwede mag imbestiga ang prosecutor ng ICC lalong-lalo na kung ang isang bansa kung saan nangyari, o kung saan may mga nasyonal siya na inaakusahan ng krimen ay handang mag-imbestiga at litisin (We expect that because Mr. Khan is an experienced defense counsel and a British, he will not forget the decision of the ICC that states that a prosecutor of ICC cannot investigate especially if courts in a country are ready to investigate),” he said.

He also reminded Khan of the decision of the incumbent ICC Prosecutor not to investigate possible war crimes committed by British forces in Iraq.

In 2017, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) said there was a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes had been committed by British troops in Iraq.

However, the OTP, in Dec. 9, 2020, announced its decision to close the preliminary examination into alleged war crimes by British troops in Iraq between 2003 and 2009.

“We’re hoping that this Mr. Khan will apply jurisprudence issued by the court relative to his home country also to the Philippines,” he added.

In December 2020, the ICC’s OTP released a report saying there was a "reasonable basis" to believe that President Rodrigo Duterte and his subordinates committed crimes against humanity in the drug war.

In 2018, the Philippines withdrew from the ICC after Bensouda pushed through with the preliminary examination of the communication filed by lawyer Jude Sabio before the international tribunal.

Sabio’s communication accused Duterte of perpetrating crimes against humanity for thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects since the anti-narcotics drive was launched on July 1, 2016 until March 31, 2017.

However, Sabio eventually dropped the communication he filed before the international tribunal. (PNA)